Improved management & presentation of PBS digital content

  • Learn about the new data model and why it's important
  • Get info about the project scope and front end experience
  • Find out what to expect during and after the transition

A data model defines how data is related, processed, and stored inside a system.


The new digital core data model enables users to effectively organize, relate, and present local and national PBS digital content.

Some key components and features include:

Expanded Data Model

Accommodates PBS's unique content relationships, and organizes video content for improved management and presentation.

System Re-Architecture

Optimized ingestion services; new, writable API; feature enhancements; and performance improvements.

New Console

The new, Media Manager console is a replacement for the Merlin/COVE admin, and is designed to give users more data management control.

Data Migration

Data from Merlin/COVE will be migrated to the new system, where users will be able to take advantage of season and episode ordering.


COVE API consumers will need to transition to the new, Media Manager API before the end of 2017. Review the documentation and get a head start.

Front End Improvements

A roll-out schedule is planned for PBS Digital products (, apps, OTT, etc.) to take advantage of the expanded core data.


New digital asset structure closely aligned with PBS's unique content relationships

Expanded programming and curation opportunities

Improved search

Content that is better organized and presented across all PBS Digital platforms

Improved workflow and data management access for stations & producers

The Core Data Model

Let's start with our current data model...

The new data model


A collection of shows, or a brand, with little video content of its own.

  • Most shows will not be associated with a franchise
  • There will be very few franchises: Masterpiece, Digital Studios, Ken Burns, possibly This Old House
  • Stations themselves are not franchises, but if a station has a collection of shows that are associated to a given brand, a franchise can be created


Currently referred to as a content channel (or program, series), a show may or may not be associated to a parent franchise. With the new model, all Masterpiece shows will exist separately, and be associated to the Masterpiece franchise.


A grouping of shows that can be organized as ordinal (Season 1, 2, 3), or year-based (Season 2016, 2017, 2018). While most shows will have seasons, a seasonless show is possible, but for organizational and presentation purposes, not recommended.


A new object that is essentially the container for all video assets belonging to a specific episode. Each episode can have one full length video asset (which is, in essence, "the episode"), and any number of related clips and previews.


An episode that sits outside of a show's season.

  • Example: Manners of Downton Abbey would be a Special, because while it is associated to the show Downton Abbey, it does not belong to a specific season.
  • Example: Curious George Christmas would be a Special. This is a movie that is associated to the show Curious George, but does not belong to a specific season.
  • You can have a Special on the Franchise level.
    • In the model and console, it will be represented as a franchise with a child show (which has no seasons), and the show will have a single special.
  • You can have a standalone Special, which is one that is not associated to any show or franchise (Example: Mr. Stink).
    • In the model and console, it will be represented as a show (which has no seasons), and the show will have a single special.


A grouping of episodes or specials within a single show. Think "sub-series." Collections are not intended to be temporary, curated lists.

  • Example: Antiques Roadshow can create a collection for Junk in the Trunk episodes
  • Example: Antiques Roadshow can create collections for each city in which they have multi-part episodes.
  • Example: NOVA can create a collection for Making Stuff
  • An episode can live within a season and also within a collection.
  • Each collection contains episodes or specials from a single show, not multiple shows.


It will be possible to have clips and previews on nearly every level of the model. These are referred to as "extras."

  • Example: A preview for season 2 of The Tunnel
  • Example: A behind-the-scenes clip on the show level, which is not specific to any season

What to Expect

Merlin/COVE console will be disabled and replaced by Media Manager in April, 2017

Learn about the transition, training, and roll-out schedule.

Front-end improvements for, apps, and OTT

  • Core Data updates will be released on and all other platforms on a rolling basis, beginning with (tentatively) in mid-April, 2017. Roll-outs can be expected throughout 2017.
  • Improved organization and opportunities for content discovery
  • Better categorization of show episodes, to include seasons
  • Logical relation of all assets tied to a single episode, making it possible to surface the most relevant asset on the front-end (e.g., the next full length episode is not yet available, but watch its preview in the meantime)
  • Ability to coordinate viewing by episode (e.g., Watch Next Episode)
  • Front-end updates will roll out to each product individually, after the new management console and API are released

Front-end video pattern concepts (-DRAFT-)

More control over content metadata

The new management console is designed to give stations and producers more control over their content and metadata, including show and franchise level objects.

Data migration

Existing show and video asset data will be migrated to the new system, where users will be able to take advantage of season and episode ordering, as well as the planned front-end improvements.

New, Media Manager API will replace COVE API

A new (and improved) API was developed, to accommodate the expanded data model. Review the documentation. It's currently available to PBS stations and producers in the staging environment, and will be available on production beginning April 4, 2017. By May 2, 2017, it will have data for all shows and franchises.

COVE API consumers will need to transition to the new API by the end of 2017

When the new API and management console are released, we will keep the current COVE API up and running for nine months, in order to give consumers the time to transition. Review the documentation for the new, Media Manager API, and get a head start.

Masterpiece content channel will be removed from COVE API on April 11, 2017

In Media Manager, Masterpiece will become a “franchise", and all of its shows will be represented as individual “shows". So when the data is back-migrated to Merlin/COVE API, Masterpiece goes away, and instead, all of its shows will be represented individually. So, if your COVE API implementation relies upon there being a program called Masterpiece, this would need to be updated on April 11, 2017.

Until is updated to take advantage of the new data model, the Masterpiece show page ( will be redirected to an alternate destination. After is updated, the Masterpiece franchise page will be available and presented.

Backwards Compatibility

While we’re being cautious to ensure most things will continue to work as they do now, there will be some changes:

  • Some URLs will likely change, but redirects will be put in place so links will not break ( video pages, show pages, etc.)
  • Partner Players that are implemented using the embed code will continue to work.
  • Custom Video portals will need to migrate off of COVE API before the end of the deprecation period.
  • The system will continue to support TP Media IDs for video assets, so systems that were built with dependency on those will continue to function.
  • New “content ids” will be assigned to new assets and some may wish to migrate to those immediately.

Release Schedule

Staggered Roll-out Beginning April, 2017

The new management console and API need to be completed before any of the audience-facing products (, apps, OTT, etc) can take advantage of the new data. There will be a period of time when the new core data is managed by stations and producers but updates are not yet presented on the front-end.

January 17-March 31, 2017:  Media Manager console and API are available to users in the staging environment, for training and testing.

April, 2017:   Staggered roll-outs each Tuesday in April (except the 18th), through May 2, for stations and program groups. See complete Roll-out Schedule and transition plan. The Media Manager API will also be released on production, and will have data for stations/programs as they are released through May 2.

April and Beyond   Front-end improvements will be rolled out individually for, apps, and OTT.

December, 2017   All current COVE API consumers will need to transition to the new Media Manager API before the deprecation period ends, expected to be December 2017.

Target for sunset of COVE API: December, 2017

After the new Media Manager API is released, we will keep COVE API up and running for about nine months, to give consumers time to transition. Review the documentation for the new, Media Manager API.


  • Will URLs change?

    Some may. Program pages and video pages may change depending on the specific case but we will have the capability to put redirects in place to ensure that links will still work.

    e.g. will likely redirect to something like

  • When will the new metadata show up on, Roku, AppleTV, iOS, Android, etc.?

    We plan to begin migrating these applications, individually, in Q1 2017.

  • Can I keep using COVE API?

    We are deprecating COVE API and while it will continue to work for a period of time after the release of the new system, it will eventually be shut down entirely. We will communicate the dates of the deprecation time period, and provide plenty of time for you to transition to the new API. We will also provide a migration guide to help you switch to the new API.

  • During the interim period, will assets added to the new console be available via COVE API?

    Yes, but only during the deprecation period for COVE API. During this time, COVE will start representing a flattened form of the Core Data (see example below). Of course, none of the new data model fields will be available in COVE, but we aim to provide an adequate conversion for all pre-existing data, to allow people time to migrate.

    Note about flattened data: Due to the nature of the new model, COVE assets will have automatically generated titles based on their position in the new hierarchy.

    For example, imagine a new episode of Downton Abbey: Season 7, Episode 1.

    In the Core Data Model Console one would create:
    Franchise: Masterpiece
    Show: Downton Abbey Season: 7
    Episode: 1
    Asset: Full Length

    In COVE this data will be available flattened to a single Video with the title, "Downton Abbey - Season 7 - Episode 1"

  • Can we add something new to the Core Data Model?

    Our initial focus is on getting the existing data moved over and migrating users and PBS platforms to the new model. So while additional features cannot be added at this time, once the new system is on solid ground, we will evaluate feature requests as future improvements for the model and experience.

  • Will I still be able to control how my assets are viewed?

    Yes, you can still make your assets publicly available to all assigned platforms (Roku, Bento, Android, etc.) or unlisted and only available via the partner player and to those who know the URL for the video page.

    You will also be able to control the visibility of show pages, which is a new concept. New shows can be "hidden" (only available to those who know the URL), until they are ready for prime time.

  • Can I rearrange the order and location of my assets after saving?

    Yes. In addition, you will also be able to change the type of asset (e.g.: clip, preview, full length).

  • When you say COVE is going away, do you mean the station video portals?

    No. The station video portals are not going away. However, the Merlin/COVE console (where you manage video assets and metadata), and COVE API will be replaced.

  • Who do I contact if I have more questions about the Core Data Model project?

    Stations should reach out to the SPIs team at:

    National producers should reach out to your program manager.

  • Why is COVE API being replaced, rather than updated and improved?

    - The model changes are drastic enough that even if COVE API was updated, it would require a major overhaul. So, a transition by API consumers would be inevitable, in either case.

    - COVE API is the oldest piece of our core infrastructure, and it was not built to be flexible enough to meet our needs today, or going forward.

    - COVE API is outdated, which makes it fragile to work with, and updates cannot be made in a timely manner.

    - The new API will be more flexible, reliable, and it will be easier/faster to make improvements.

    - The new API has been designed to be writable, which is a sought after feature by many stations and producers.

  • Can I create a franchise?

    No. PBS must create franchises and shows for you. Please submit a support ticket and provide information about the franchise or show you want created. After it has been created, you can edit the associated metadata.

  • Can I create a show?

    No. PBS must create franchises and shows for you. Please submit a support ticket and provide information about the franchise or show you want created. After it has been created, you can edit the associated metadata.

  • Can I delete a content channel?


  • Will Topics still be used?

    Not by default. If you find that you do use Topics, we can turn them on at the show level.

  • Will the console allow batch upload?

    No, but we are considering this for a future enhancement. However, the API is writeable and will allow stations to create a batch ingest process on their own.